The Impromptu Romance [ca. 1903]


Introduction

This is a translation of a brief version of "Le Roman impromptu," found in Jeux de société collected by L. de Valaincourt. Contemporary issues of both the Bibliographie de la France: Journal Général de l'Imprimerie et de la Librairie and also the BNF's Bulletin Mensuel des Récentes Publications Françaises provide a date of 1903 for some edition, indicating over a century of publications for the game. Google Books and booksellers on the web suggest later editions existed, including a softbound version with an illustrated cover unlike the version at Hathi Trust, but they don't provide evidence. An earlier version probably also exists, because its "Impromptu Romance" was summarized in German in the Französisches Real-Lexikon: Bd. Neveu-Zythogale dated 1902, which has earlier volumes from 1898 and 1900 that also cite Valaincourt's Jeux de société.

Translation

The Impromptu Romance is very reminiscent of the game The History, but it requires from the players who take part in it, and especially from the main narrator, a great facility for improvisation. The person who is known to have the greatest facility with improvisation is assigned to narrate the romance. She generally recounts the adventures of a prince, an ambassador, a knight or any other character, and takes for herself the title of confidant, secretary, squire, or friend, according to the rank or the quality of the hero whose adventures she recounts. Before starting she also gives each of the players the name of one of the characters in the romance.

When a player hears the name under which he is designated, he must speak immediately and continue the narration as he sees fit.

To better surprise the players, and make them give pledges, the narrator must try to capture their attention with interesting adventures that are as realistic as possible.

Sometimes the narrator suddenly stops and points to one of the players; the latter must immediately provide him with a word absolutely opposite to that required by the meaning of the sentence. Whoever narrates is obliged to sew this word as naturally as possible into his story. This last rule increases both the pleasure and the difficulty of the game.

Original Text

Le Roman impromptu

Le Roman impromptu rappelle beaucoup le jeu de l'Histoire, mais il exige chez les joueurs qui y prennent part, et surtout chez le narrateur principal, une grande facilité d'improvisation. La personne qui est connue pour avoir la plus grande facilité d'improvisation est désignée pour réciter le roman. Elle raconte généralement les aventures d'un prince, d'un ambassadeur, d'un chevalier ou de tout autre personnage, et prend elle-même le titre de confident, de secrétaire, d'écuyer ou d'ami, selon le rang ou la qualité du héros dont elle raconte les aventures. Avant de commencer elle donne aussi à chacun des joueurs le nom de l'un des personnages du roman.

Lorsqu'un joueur entend prononcer le nom sous lequel il est désigné, il doit aussitôt prendre la parole et continuer la narration à son gré.

Pour mieux surprendre les joueurs, et leur faire donner des gages, celui qui raconte doit chercher à captiver leur attention par des aventures intéressantes et aussi vraisemblables que possible.

Parfois le narrateur s'interrompt tout à coup et désigne l'un des joueurs ; celui-ci doit aussitôt lui fournir un mot absolument opposé à celui qu'exige le sens de la phrase. Celui qui raconte est obligé de coudre ce mot le plus naturellement possible à son récit. Cette dernière règle augmente et l'agrément et les difficultés du jeu.


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